from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A monument erected in honor of a dead person whose remains lie elsewhere.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An empty tomb erected in honor of some deceased person; a sepulchral monument erected to one who is buried elsewhere.
  • To honor or commemorate with a cenotaph.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person who is buried elsewhere.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A monument erected to honour the dead whose bodies lie elsewhere; especially members of the armed forces who died in battle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a monument built to honor people whose remains are interred elsewhere or whose remains cannot be recovered


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French cénotaphe, from Old French, from Latin cenotaphium, from Greek kenotaphion : kenos, empty + taphos, tomb.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek κενός (kenos, "empty") + τάφος (taphos, "tomb").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word cenotaph.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "The pair of young German professors spelunking with their electric torches in the rafters of the Old-New Synagogue, or Altneuschul, had, as it happened, gone away disappointed; for the attic under the stair-stepped gable's of the old Gothic synagogue was a cenotaph".

    "The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", Michael Chabon, p39

    August 10, 2007

  • "My mother says that in Grand Falls he marched, with a bad limp, in the Memorial Day parades to the cenotaph. ... And frequently he woke, bellowing into the night on Junction Road, from nightmares of a horse and a munitions wagon sinking into a sea of mud while ahead of him a trench of defenceless Newfoundlanders shouted for Transport until, one by one, their shouts became strangled gurgles and then stopped."

    —David Macfarlane, The Danger Tree, 89

    May 6, 2008

  • Memorializing lost friends

    The clamor of laughter ascends:

    Let drinks that we quaff

    Be their cenotaph.

    Fond recall's a marker that mends.

    August 26, 2017